Calls for rent protection in San Jose

The housing crunch in Silicon Valley brought dozens of renters together on Thursday night. They packed a church gymnasium to call for stronger protections against landlords.
Right now, in the City of San Jose, landlords can evict renters without a cause. Renters said it's difficult to compete and find housing in Silicon Valley, forcing them to move elsewhere.

Friday is Piper Thomason’s last night at The Reserve apartments in West San Jose. She’s one of 670 residents, given an eviction notice months ago, ordered to move out of their rent controlled apartments by April 1.

The complex is set to be demolished to make way for market-rate housing and retail development.

“San Jose is changing pretty quickly and I worry about displacement of people and these are affordable apartment complexes for the space that you have,” said Thomason.

To make matters worse, the City of San Jose doesn't have a policy to help tenants financially if they're forced out. Community members want to change that, fighting for better relocation benefits and protections against evictions.

“There’s a lot of people being pushed out, taken advantage of,” said Christian Ollano of PACT or People Acting in Community Together. “People who represent vulnerable communities.”

Ollano with the nonprofit said according to a report done by San Jose’s Housing Department, between 2010 and 2016, more than 2,000 no-cause eviction notices were reported. Ollano calls it landlord greed.

“There are a lot of people who work in tech here,” said Ollano. “Someone is paying $500 a month because it's a rent controlled unit but you know someone who's making six digits and can pay $1,000 a month. Wouldn't you be inclined to push someone out?”

Salma Vizcaya said her family was given the boot last month from their one-bedroom apartment of six years for no legitimate reason.

“Why should we get kicked out just because they want to raise the rent even higher?” said Vizcaya. “It doesn't make any sense and I think everyone deserves to live here not only the tech companies.”

The San Jose Housing Department told KTVU many landlords strongly oppose just-cause evictions, saying it makes it harder for them to get rid of "problem" tenants, and the matter could end up in court, which is more expensive and time-consuming.

On April 18, the San Jose City Council will vote on two rent-controlled laws. One of them offers protections for tenants with limitations.